Let’s Play the Expectations Game

In what is surely one of the oddest political traditions anywhere in the country, the Republican and Democratic nominees for governor of Virginia hold their first debate at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. I’m wondering if our bloggers could engage in a little handicapping before the event.

Has Tim Kaine so pysched out Jerry Kilgore regarding his accent and debating skills that Kilgore’s performance will be affected?

Given the incredibly low expectations for Kilgore, will merely getting clobbered instead of getting annihilated constitute a “win”?

Given the non-televised nature of the joust, does the debate really matter?

Can we trust the Sunday morning evaluations of the reporters covering the event as to which candidate acquits himself best?

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  1. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Jim, I asked Michael Shear some of the same questions yesterday and his responses are here:


    We know that Professor Holsworth will moderate, but that three reporters will ask the questions. I wish we knew who the three are. Holsworth is a good choice.

    I think Kilgore will be ready for this one and will at least “exceed expectations.” That should stop any “bleeding” in most of the political junkie class, the only folks who will pay attention.

  2. S. Leake Avatar
    S. Leake

    I tire so easily of the misuse of the term “debate.” It subtlety elevates a joint news conference into something it is not and thereby implies that “winning” is somehow evidence of superior qualifications for the office. We’re electing a governor, not debate club president.

  3. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    I’m inclined to agree that Kilgore will benefit from low expectations, at least among the tiny percentage of the state who has any idea that there’s a race going on and who the candidates are. President Bush had the same experience during the debates with Kerry — because he didn’t actually sob like a little girl, people were impressed. Ditto for Kilgore.

  4. I agree with Waldo. If Kilgore shows up (without a dress on) and puts 3 sentences together without breaking down and crying, he wins.

  5. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    If one of the candidates wants to become a media darling, all he has to say is, “everything is on the table for transportation.” For some reason, the media loves that line.

  6. Ha ha. Yeah that’s true.

    But I’d prefer “Everything is on the table for transportation. Except double decking. That’s stupid!”

  7. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Here’s the Kaine campaign’s spin today on the debates:

    How to “Watch” an Un-Televised Debate

    Tomorrow, Tim will be in West Virginia to debate Jerry Kilgore. The first question that comes to mind might be, “Why does Tim have to go to West Virginia to debate Jerry Kilgore?”

    Because Jerry Kilgore is afraid to debate Tim where Virginians can see him. It’s as simple as that.

    The next question to come to mind might be, “Can I watch the debate on TV?” The answer is No. Why?

    Because Jerry Kilgore is afraid to debate Tim where Virginians can see him. It’s as simple as that….

    Well, Tim’s supporters aren’t going to let Jerry off that easy. We’ll be holding “Debate Watch” Parties and a “Truth Canvass” across Virginia at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.

    In addition, we’ll be “live-blogging” the debate at http://www.TK4G.org.

    The live blogging might be interesting to follow.

  8. Sorrel Avatar

    s. leake is right – why not go to a modified Lincoln/Douglas format: a series of debates with alternating “first serve.” we could designate subject matters for each debate (transport, education, health care, overall budget/tax issues). You might want a moderator just to keep things from sliding off the rails altogether, but get rid of the reporters. The great thing about this is not only might we learn something, the candidates might also learn something in their preparations.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    S. Leake and Sorrel,

    It seems that one candidate for GA is in agreement. Issue Debate

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